Rising ranks of scientists doubt Darwin’s Theory

Does this sound familiar?

Ranks of Scientists Doubting Darwin’s Theory on the Rise

Another 100 scientists have joined the ranks of scientists from around the world publicly stating their doubts about the adequacy of Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“Darwinism is a trivial idea that has been elevated to the status of the scientific theory that governs modern biology,” says dissent list signer Dr. Michael Egnor. Egnor is a professor of neurosurgery and pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook and an award-winning brain surgeon named one of New York’s best doctors by New York Magazine.

Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture today announced that over 700 scientists from around the world have now signed a statement expressing their skepticism about the contemporary theory of Darwinian evolution. The statement, located online at www.dissentfromdarwin.org, reads: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

More scientists than ever before are now standing up and saying that it is time to rethink Darwin’s theory of evolution in light of new scientific evidence that shows the theory is inadequate,” said John West, associate director of the Center for Science & Culture.

That was from the Discovery Institute in 2007. This was also from the Discovery Institute in 2010.

What Do Darwinism and ‘Climate Change’ Have in Common?

Leslie Kaufman in the New York Times reports on budding initiatives in state legislatures and boards of education to encourage or require balance in classroom discussions of global warming. The point of the piece, though, is to connect the teaching of evolution to the climate change debate:

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

Some things they want to accomplish with this piece:

(1) Divide and conquer skeptics of global warming orthodoxy and Darwinism, by painting the latter as ignorant religious zealots, in hopes of starting a fight among conservatives. No doubt they’re hoping that, say, Richard Lindzen will have to explain why he agrees with those nefarious creationists on the global warming issue, and that he’ll have to spend his time issuing statements of agreement with evolution.

Funny. Opponents of evolution and climate change and tobacco control use very similar tactics – try to divide and conquer science by spreading unscientific doubts

(2) Make it harder for official bodies to encourage critical thinking on global warming, since attempts to do the same with regard to evolution have, in recent years, met with fierce resistance and only modest success.

That’s not funny. Opponents of evolution and climate change try to discredit critical thinking.

Is the debate over “evolution” the same as the debate over “climate change”?

Well, I think they’re both alike and different. First, the similarities, which I think are mostly sociological:

*Both issues suffer from “semantic creep,” which tends to prevent rational discussion.

So a vague word like “evolution” can range in meaning from the trivial and tautological—change over time and survival of the fittest—to the uncontroversial—certain organisms share common ancestors and natural selection explains some things—to the questionable and ideological—everything is the result of a purely impersonal process, we don’t exist for a purpose, we’re just carriers for selfish genes, natural selection and random genetic mutations explain everything interesting, and so forth. If you doubt the latter, you get lumped in with doubting the former.

‘Evolution’ is not a vague term. It is a widely accepted theory based on a massive amount of science.

*With both issues, dissenters, especially in science, are severely punished, and if possible, ostracized and denied tenure.

*Both issues have broad metaphysical implications, which are recognized, if not quite admitted, on all sides.

*Skeptics of both issues are customarily accused of bad faith, bias, religious bigotry, and the like.

*With both issues, the chaff of ideological assumptions has a way of contaminating the wheat of empirical evidence, and in the process, damaging public trust in science.

*If you doubt either idea, you’re accused, not of doubting that one idea, but of doubting science itself.

*With both issues, we hear a lot about consensus.

*Both have a way of surviving at the theoretical level even when individual pieces of evidence bite the dust.

*They’re both deeply embedded in the worldview of what David Brooks, perhaps with tongue-in-cheek, has called the “educated class.”

Another similarity – the Discovery Institute been a major player in trying to discredit both the science of evolution and the science of climate change.

Evolutionary theory, Neo-Darwinian or otherwise, attempts to reconstruct the past in very broad terms, and so can’t make detailed predictions about the future. Orthodox global warming theory does try to predict the future. So it’s much easier to qualify or decisively refute than is Neo-Darwinism.

A bizarre claim. They are trying to say that predictions about the future can be decisively refuted. How? By making counter predictions?

On the Discovery Institute:

The Discovery Institute (DI) is a non-profit public policy think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of the pseudoscientific principle of intelligent design (ID). Its “Teach the Controversy” campaign aims to permit teaching of anti-evolution, intelligent-design beliefs in United States public high school science courses alongside accepted scientific theories, positing that a scientific controversy exists over these subjects.

From ‘Teach the Controversy’ Comes to Climate Science

A spokesperson for the Discovery Institute said that although it takes no position on climate change, “we definitely have a position on whether or not there should be investigation in schools on that subject,” and claimed that the legislation it favors would “give teachers the right to teach both sides of a scientific controversy,” providing legal protection for educators who might want to introduce “other sides of the topic” to students.

There’s no doubt that climate change science is controversial, but it needs to be challenged with science, not pseudoscience and anti-science.

Same with the science of evolution. In the US it seems to be the same people opposing evolution science and climate science.

Perhaps the weather is Intelligently Designed too.

Leave a comment

78 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  13th March 2017

    Evolution theory has two problems stopping rational debate. Make that three problems

    1- Its such a grand theory. But follow the evidence and you come to a mile wide canyon where you are expected to jump then pick up the trail again. The evidence of a bridge to cross that canyon safely isn’t there.

    2- If you aren’t for Evolution Theory you are automatically assumed to be a gun totting, sister loving conservative hlllbillly hick.

    3- All our science endeavour is behind physical science- of three dimensional things. The science of looking within is still in its infancy, mainstream wise. My guess is when man evolves more, both theories will be assigned to the asylum where mercury vapours are sniffed for good health.

    Reply
    • “1- Its such a grand theory. But follow the evidence and you come to a mile wide canyon where you are expected to jump then pick up the trail again. The evidence of a bridge to cross that canyon safely isn’t there.”

      I disagree. All you need to do is understand that evolution doesn’t work by jumping across mile wide canyons (that sounds a very American term).

      It works by finding stepping stones across creeks. And at times during evolutionary history those creeks get dried up or frozen.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  13th March 2017

        Exactly.. we follow the fossil evidence and find some stepping stones are missing ( ie fossil remains to form a continuous chain of evidence.) Basically one minute ( in global time) fish are swimming, the next they grow rudimentary limbs ,then they are swinging in trees, then they create computers…..and people laugh at creationists who believe the earth was created in 7 days.

        However, midget humanoid skeletons have been found on an island in Micronesia that may turn everything on its head. I will try to find the story.

        Reply
    • Blazer

       /  13th March 2017

      you been watching Deliverance…again…Corky-Joe.

      Reply
    • And I presume you’re aware that canyons haven’t always been there, they evolved gradually over long periods of time.

      Reply
      • … and went through intermediate and possibly ‘missing link’ stages of being rivulets, streams, rivers, glaciers, gulches, valleys … and things we haven’t yet discovered and consequently have no names for …

        Reply
      • Corky

         /  13th March 2017

        ”And I presume you’re aware that canyons haven’t always been there, they evolved gradually over long periods of time.”

        We presume that logically happened. We have no proof. We know the Panama Canal evolved over time and have proof…it was man-made. What it our civilisation is revisionist?

        Reply
  2. ““Darwinism is a trivial idea that has been elevated to the status of the scientific theory that governs modern biology,”

    Trivial or not, Darwinism is the idea that has been elevated to the status of the scientific theory that governs modern political-economy”

    To paraphrase Corky, “if you aren’t for anthromorphised Darwinism, you’re automatically assumed to be a Bible-bashing, gun-totting, Jesus lovin’, horse-and-trap ridin’ conservative Amish plainsman” …

    Reply
    • Brown

       /  13th March 2017

      The trouble is that you have to be all in or all out with evolution and be labeled accordingly. Some aspects such as genetic lineage look good but others are more difficult. My issue with evolution as taught is the theory being touted as “fact” when scientifically that would appear to be too big a claim to make with the present level of knowledge.

      Reply
      • @ Brown – “The trouble is that you have to be all in or all out with evolution …”

        Many people recognise the same is ‘true’ of Left and Right, Good and Bad and all the other polarised dichotomies the human mind and especially our language artificially create from the world “as it is” …

        “All in or all out” are truly the banes of human existence …

        Reply
    • Oh to hell with it … Darwinism says not a jot about human sentience (in any way other than its authorship) … so yeah … its as trivial as fuck …

      Why would we make ourselves lap-dogs to it …

      Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  13th March 2017

    Anybody who thinks designing human beings was an intelligent thing to do needs their head read.

    Reply
  4. NOEL

     /  13th March 2017

    Darwin made his observations relative to the knowlege and tools of the times.
    I’m sure if he had gene analysis etc he would have tweaked some things.

    Interesting that the Institute in its press releases is heavy into “Darwinism used to refute faith”. Hmmmmmm

    Reply
  5. All this goes to show how wrong, fundamentally wrong, I was as an adolescent to think that religious belief was on its way out. Rational thinking and empirically-based analysis cannot compete with the cultural and imaginative creations of mankind in his state of ignorance.

    There is an element of human nature – I had to invent a word to explain it, doxogony – which will hold onto a belief regardless of its irrationality, and build an entire world-view based on it. From this comes more than just an infinite variety of religious beliefs. It covers all supernatural beliefs, conspiracy theories, even gambling, anything that is not repeatable but held to be absolutely true regardless of competing evidence. Regrettably, apocalyptic opinions expressed in support of climate change fall into this category and damage its credibility.

    The thing about doxogony is that is like a vector. While it carries no values itself, it has direction, imposed by an individual’s upbringing, and intensity, brought about by psychological factors and the individual’s environment. The modern secular world of the West has driven religious belief to the fringes of society and channelled it into the personal realm. This has allowed unprecedented social development, which, for all its mistakes, will in time be remedied. But as a function of being human – there’s evidence it’s in other primates too – it cannot be quashed, and unexamined beliefs will form a barrier to scientific progress.

    So while the Discovery Institute reinforces its own divinely-focussed tunnel and contributes nothing to science, there are greater things to fear.

    Watch out for that intensity factor.

    Reply
    • Sounds a bit like your ideal world would best be populated by robots or automotons Kit?

      As far as I’m concerned, the ‘fact’ is that at the centre of all Life lies a nameless mystery, regardless of what we call it, how we picture it, anthropomorphise it, deify it or whatever …

      Reply
  6. Zedd

     /  13th March 2017

    The theory of ‘deep time’ with minute changes, is being challenged for several reasons:

    1) Dinosaur bones have reportedly been found, with cartlidge & bone marrow traces. This suggests they are 1000s of years old not many millions. There are many records of ‘Dragons’, inc. St. George slaying one. Again these are perhaps stories of Dinosaurs, in recent history, when the official line is they have been extinct for 65mil years ?

    2) tree roots buried in mud, that supposedly are also hundreds of thousands of years old, but again, appear much younger. Instead of being buried over ‘deep time’ may have occurred in a very short time. Some suggest during ‘Noah’s flood’ ?

    3) Rock formations that supposedly took millions of years to form, have been found containing artifacts, that are reportedly only 100s of years old. etc.

    I’m not a ‘bible-basher’ BUT it suggests that ‘creation’ occurred about 6000 years ago ??

    The whole theory of ‘gradual change’ is being questioned, because the fossil record apparently does NOT really support it. I remember reading about ‘the Cambrian explosion’ when a huge amount of life. in massive diversity, seems to have appeared suddenly; ‘the creation event ? :/

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  13th March 2017

      So now google the pages that comprehensively debunk that lot of nonsense.

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  13th March 2017

        I grew up believing Darwin’s ‘theory of evolution’ (taught at school) BUT having looked into other possible explanations (inc. Creationism) I now think, that perhaps the earth is much younger than I was told & that the ‘bible stories’ MAY have some historical truths in it ?

        BUT wheres Dr. Who, when we need him ? :/

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  13th March 2017

          I’m sorry for previously calling you ‘one-eyed”, Zedd.

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  13th March 2017

          So now look into where things are at with dna & genomic science.

          Reply
        • Nelly Smickers

           /  13th March 2017

          Reply
          • Zedd

             /  13th March 2017

            “allahu akbar” 😀

            btw; I think the other big question; is the ‘Big Bang theory’ really based on any evidence too ? OR just more speculation ??

            “The truth is out there…..” just ask Mulder & Scully 🙂

            Reply
  7. Kevin

     /  13th March 2017

    “Another 100 scientists have joined the ranks of scientists from around the world publicly stating their doubts about the adequacy of Darwin’s theory of evolution.”

    Except that doesn’t say they don’t believe in evolution – just that it’s not enough to explain everything. For example for a long time it was thought that evolution was a slow process. Now it’s thought the evolutionary changes can happen suddenly. Perhaps when these scientists say they have their doubts about the adequacy of Darwin’s theory of evolution they mean that evolution by itself can’t explain sudden genetic changes – that’s for the science of genetics to provide an answer (sorry all you Creationists).

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  13th March 2017

      Far better just to make them all out as ‘Evolution deniers’ rather than bother debating the issue, or god forbid, actually do some real science.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  13th March 2017

        When the mutiple lines of science, & logic, & general puzzlement about why mankind are such endless shitkickers the planet would have probably done better without, gets too tough to grasp, it’s just easier to fall back on the “Goddidit, & then told some illiterate peasant about it, and said that his kids would be the chosen ones, but since his progenitors had committed a misdemeanor with some fruit at creation of Eden, he fucked everything in the world up for them & their successors as punishment” theory.

        Reply
        • PDB

           /  13th March 2017

          I think you’ll do PZ out of a job if you post like that too often Gezza……

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  13th March 2017

            Just give a call when whoever sorts out which ism is the solution to all the ills & errors all the other isms have caused from time immemorial.

            Reply
      • Neo-creationists PDB …?

        Reply
    • Anonymous Coward

       /  13th March 2017

      @ Kevin, The Dissentor’s do make the distinction;

      “Whenever talking about challenges to “evolution,” it’s vital to carefully define terms, otherwise confusion can result. There are three common usages of the term “evolution”:

      Evolution #1 — Microevolution: Small-scale changes in a population of organisms.
      Evolution #2 — Universal Common Descent: The idea that all organisms are related and are descended from a single common ancestor.
      Evolution #3 — Darwinian Evolution: The view that an unguided process of natural selection acting upon random mutation has been the primary mechanism driving the evolution of life.

      No one doubts Evolution #1, which is sometimes called “microevolution.” Some scientists doubt Evolution #2. But the Scientific Dissent from Darwinism list only concerns Evolution #3, also called Darwinian evolution or Darwinism. The scientists who have signed the dissent statement say this:
      We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged”.

      So the small stuff that doesn’t look like God is OK, but the big stuff not so much

      Reply
    • Kevin, Darwin’s definitive thesis was ” The Origin of the Species”. He describes the changes that have occurred in various species of living organisms due to environmental changes. But what he proposes is that existing organisms have changed, or evolved, if you like, as a consequence of the changes in the environment in which the organisms develop. The huge experiment that Pavlov did with bells ringing and dogs salivating is a classic example of the merit of Darwin’s thesis. Now cause and effect are valid scientific equations of evidence of behaviour. So, genetic change is not the cause of evolution of the species, it is the result?

      Reply
  8. I think Einstein was a genuine contributor to this question, for example “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind,” (Einstein in his 1954 essay on science and religion).
    Some (including the scientist himself) have called Einstein’s spiritual views as pantheism, largely influenced by the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza. Pantheists see God as existing but abstract, equating all of reality with divinity. They also reject a specific personal God or a god that is somehow endowed with human attributes.”

    I regard all living things as star dust, an essential part of the universe. Einstein, whom you have to regard as one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century said this in a letter to a grieving father as a condolence message:

    “A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.”

    Darwin’s “The Origin of the Species” is a classic thesis from a well researched scholar. Coincidentally Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace came to almost identical conclusions about the origin of the species and one usually thinks of the concept based on the works of both persons. The concept of “competitive exclusion” (some call it a principle) came out of the research also done at this time. It is explained as: “Competitive exclusion in ecology. The competitive exclusion principle, sometimes referred to as Gause’s Law of competitive exclusion or just Gause’s Law, states that two species that compete for the exact same resources cannot stably coexist.” This perhaps can be used to explain why either Trump or Clinton has to go??!

    Reply
    • Nelly Smickers

       /  13th March 2017

      Wow…thanks BJ ❗ I just showed Wayne this…..he had *no idea* Einstein was a scientist. He always thort he was the manager of the Beatles. Cheers, N

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  13th March 2017

        Wayne thought that he was the manager of the Beatles ???

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th March 2017

          Or is he confusing Epstein and Einstein ? Oy gevalt, Wayne ist ein schmuck.

          Reply
          • Nelly Smickers

             /  13th March 2017

            *Oh my God* [Use proper names – PG], I know……how embarrassing ❗

            I really had *no idea* he thought that…..in fact I just phoned and told my mum, she said “Honestly Nell, if that Wayne picked his nose, his head would cave in” 😡

            Reply
            • Nelly Smickers

               /  13th March 2017

              @ Peter George

            • That hardly seems relevant here, especially dropped in without comment.

            • Nelly Smickers

               /  13th March 2017

              I just felt you were *pickin’ on me* PG 😡

              So just to clarify then, it’s OK to call someone an “ist ein schmuck”, but I can’t refer to one of my BFF’s by her pet name, *Kitzy* ?

            • Just to clarify, you know (or should know) what I’ve asked, and you should know that I deal with what I notice and have time to deal with.

              And you should also know that playing the ‘poor me’ card doesn’t work here.

            • Nelly Smickers

               /  13th March 2017

              And *fair enuff* too Peter…..have you had time to watch the *Charlie Brown* vid yet ❓

        • Peet Kane

           /  13th March 2017

          In fairness, one can understand Wayne creating at least some pause for thought amongst Darwin sceptics

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  13th March 2017

            I will not, will not. will not make the obvious remark about Wayne and one aspect of Darwinism-that particular one, and I am sure that you know which, was never said by him.

            I have read The Origin of Species, so don’t have to read it again, thank goodness.

            Reply
            • Peet Kane

               /  13th March 2017

              Quite true, withdraw above comment.

            • Nelly Smickers

               /  13th March 2017

              If you have read *The Origin of the Species*, Kitty (okay if I call you Kitty?) – you might recall this little passage from the *Epilogue*……

              Dumbass: “Hey Dude, Wayne just got sent to hospital with third-degree burns after we tried to play *Hot Potato* with a Molotov Cocktail, and I was wondering if you could……

              Smartass: “What, nominate you two idiots for a Darwin Award?”

              Dumbass: “No, I was wondering if you wanted to play while Wayne’s in hospital?”

              Smartass: (sigh)…..

              XD

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  14th March 2017

              That sounds like Dumb and Dumber, not Darwin.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  14th March 2017

            😀
            Darwin spent a lot of time trying to contradict this interpretation of what he had said, to no avail. Philip Gosse had the same problem-the poor man’s cred was ruined by unfair ridicule and (deliberate) misinterpretation of what he said.

            Reply
  9. Alan Wilkinson

     /  13th March 2017

    AFAICS most dissenters to evolution are religious and their objection is fundamentally based on evolution’s challenge to creationism whereas that is not a factor for climate alarmism critics.

    Reply
  10. artcroft

     /  13th March 2017

    Climate Change and evolution rely on different types of knowledge. CC is based on the idea that increasing carbon in an atmosphere increases the heat retention ability of that atmosphere. This is a reproducible experiment and solidly tested. Evolution is not reproducible in a lab. Instead its based on fossil obsrrvations. And so is not so
    soundly anchored.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  13th March 2017

      There are other kinds of differences. Climate systems are extremely complex and there are many factors involved some of which are dependent on each other. Evolution is a ,more simple concept.

      Reply
  11. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  13th March 2017

    Was there some point to PG posting on this topic?
    I note the latest reference is 2010.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  13th March 2017

      Pete likes to rile us up…plus he has to keep the blog going with topics that’ll get a response.

      Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  13th March 2017

      I think he was trying to tie in denial of evolution with Climate Change denial as being of a type – that type being pseudo science peddling religious nutters and ignorant people.
      I’m not sure the responses have been as supportive of this as he might have hoped.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  13th March 2017

      Evolution by natural selection due to natural perferential selection for favourable genetic mutations over millions of years is still only a theory, but the evidence available shows its a far better & more likely explanation than the Bible’s or The Quran’s magic, and omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent creatorial leadership & communication strategy failures, with its earthquake, storm & hurricane, flood & volcanic-prevention design flaws, & inbuilt human tendency to regularly murder each other in droves over which of these these favourite creation theories & divine guidebooks revealed thousands of years ago to get lost & buggered up in translation & interpretation god knows how many times over are the right one. Just my opinion though.

      Reply
  12. I think the work that Darwin did on the evolution of the beaks of Finches stands out as a truly scientific evaluation of the observed facts. The changes in the beak shapes caused by the environment in which their food grew is instructive. However Darwin was not so enamoured about New Zealand! Like most tourists he was able to make judgements after a short stay (he spent 9 days in the Bay of Islands) as recorded thus:

    “I believe we were all glad to leave New Zealand. It is not a pleasant place. Amongst the natives there is absent that charming simplicity which is found at Tahiti; and the greater part of the English are the very refuse of society. Neither is the country itself attractive.”

    If few people know that Charles Darwin once visited New Zealand still fewer are aware that he formed such a bad opinion of the country and its inhabitants as is concisely set out in the above quotation. Yet the words are quite authentic, and are to be found at the end of the tenth chapter of “The Voyage of the “Beagle.’” The book, of course, consists of the diary Darwin kept when he toured the world as naturalist aboard H.M.S. “Beagle,” which was despatched by the Admiralty to make a survey of parts of South America and the countries of the Pacific.

    Reply
    • Anonymous Coward

       /  13th March 2017

      Through the eyes of presentism those words may seem on the nose, but if you take the time to think about what he would have seen then it seems very reasonable.

      Reply
      • Yep, and think about him in his 3 piece serge suit clambering around the wilds of PNG, NZ etc. I admire the resilience of that generation.

        Reply
  13. Conspiratoor

     /  13th March 2017

    Timely. My genome has been mapped and within three days I expect to learn whether I’m from the Neanderthal or Humanoid whanau. I have a preference for the former. The excitement levels are rising

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  13th March 2017

      Report back when the results are received. Fingers crossed those two are the only two choices & nothing more surprising turns up.

      Reply
      • Conspiratoor

         /  13th March 2017

        Will do G. Folks have often remarked about my prominent forehead so here’s hoping. Cheers,c

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  13th March 2017

          A couple of other distressing possibilities ran through my mind but I think we can dispense with those for the meantime & see what the lab tests indicate. All the best 👍

          Reply

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